ACU Update is produced fortnightly for staff, students and friends of Australian Catholic University (ACU). To submit a news article or event, please email or call 07 3623 7491.

Professional learning continues

Senior staff including deans, heads of schools and institute directors recently attended ACU’s second professional learning workshop for 2008, at Anderledy Lodge in North Sydney.

Topics included learning from evaluation data, grading, quality assurance processes, and online, web-enhanced and distance education.

Staff found the workshop useful, according to Institute for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (IATL) evaluation data. The sessions considered most interesting included the Community Engagement-Research-Teaching nexus, presented by UWS Professor of Community Engagement Barbara Holland, along with information on the University’s policies on workloads and sessional staff.

Staff have requested a focus on research in 2009, with the first workshop scheduled for May.

Professional Learning

Senior staff with Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven, IATL Director Yoni Ryan and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs) Professor Gabrielle McMullen (front)

Team to research depression and heart disease

Director of the ACU/St Vincent’s Centre for Nursing Research Professor Linda Worrell-Carter has been awarded nearly $80,000 by Beyond Blue for a collaborative project aimed at alleviating depression and anxiety in patients with heart disease.

The project, Improving depression and anxiety screening of patients with heart disease: implementing a multidisciplinary clinical pathway, includes colleagues at the St Vincent’s/ACU Centre for Nursing Research, along with St Vincent’s mental health professionals Professor Mike Salzber, Dr Bridget Hamilton and Ms Monica Gilbert, cardiologist Associate Professor Andrew MacIsaacs and others.

Acting Dean of Health Sciences Associate Professor Michelle Campbell has extended her congratulations to Professor Worrell-Carter and her team on their achievement.

Ballarat launches education pathways for people who are disadvantaged

Disadvantaged Ballarat residents are being given the opportunity to undertake tertiary education with the recent launch of Australia’s first regional Clemente program.

A memorandum of understanding between ACU, the City of Ballarat, the University of Ballarat, Centacare, The Smith Family, Ballarat Cares and Central Highlands Regional Library formalises the partnership that has developed the Clemente program for regional participants.

ACU Ballarat Clemente course coordinator Dr Ann Gervasoni said the 14 Ballarat residents chosen for the program have a great willingness and desire to learn.

“Many of our participants revealed that even in their ‘wildest dreams’ they never imagined being given the opportunity to study at a university level,” Dr Gervasoni said.

Participants are currently studying a unit on “Australia’s Indigenous peoples past and present”. After completing four 12-week units, students will be eligible to graduate with a Certificate in Liberal Studies.

Delivered in a community-based setting, the Clemente program involves participants attending a weekly lecture with their learning partners, volunteers who help them plan, write and research their assignments.

Ballarat Clemente

ACU Vice Chancellor Prof Greg Craven, Ballarat Cares Chairman Bill Mundy, Ballarat Centacare chairperson Mary Darcy, Central Highlands Regional Library CEO Tania Paull, Ballarat City Council CEO Anthony Schink, The Smith Family regional program manager Anton Leschen and University of Ballarat Vice Chancellor Prof David Battersby

Open Days

Open Day events across all campuses have attracted strong interest from prospective students.

More than 60 current students helped welcome visitors to the Ballarat Campus (Aquinas) and conducted tours of the campus and residences. Their services were recently acknowledged with a morning tea and certificates.

The Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) event attracted more than 600 visitors, with prospective students impressed with the academic and general staff who provided one-on-one advice and a live band which contributed to a fantastic atmosphere on the day.

The North Sydney Campus (MacKillop) Open Night was also well attended by some 250 prospective students and their families, while the Canberra Campus (Signadou) attracted at least 250 prospective students, including increased numbers of visitors from Wagga, Leeton, Griffith, Goulburn, Young and Yass as well as the Far South Coast.

Similar events in Brisbane and Melbourne also attracted strong interest earlier in the year. Academic staff were impressed by the quality of prospective students, their knowledge of their study and career options, and their high level of interest in the Early Achievers program.

Ballarat Open Day Ballarat Campus Rector Dr Anne Hunt presents certificates to Open Day student volunteers
Strathfield Open
Cathie Harrison speaks with prospective students at the Strathfield Campus Open Day
Canberra Open Prospective students at the Canberra Open Day

Words Images Voices discussion at Strathfield

The Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) will host a discussion exploring literature for children and young adults that “speaks of justice” on Thursday 2 October from 2pm to 4pm.

Presented by ACU and the Edmund Rice Centre, Words Images Voices will feature award-winning authors and specialists including Nadia Wheatley, Libby Gleeson AM, Dr Robin Morrow, Susanne Gervay, Melina Marchetta and Maria Boyd.

The discussion and morning tea is open to parents, teachers, librarians and young people interested in discovering how writers and reviewers bring themes of social justice to young people.

Entry to the event, to be held at the Gleeson Auditorium, 25A Barker Rd, Strathfield, is $25 a person ($15 for students), with proceeds supporting the work of the Edmund Rice Centre for Justice and Community Education. Please book with Marisa Brattoni at or 8762 4219 by 26 September.

WYD appreciation dinner

Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) Mission Engagement staff Lisa Boys and Colleen Malone along with students Vanessa Forcella, Andrew Profilio and Augustino Dut recently attended a dinner in honour of people who greatly contributed to the running of World Youth Day.

The dinner was hosted by Bishop Julian Porteous and the World Youth Day Sydney Archdiocese Committee and was held at Liverpool Catholic Club Function Centre.

Exercise Science student Vanessa Forcella, who spoke with passion and eloquence, said she was honoured to be invited to give a testimony during the proceedings. Vanessa is already planning ACU’s involvement in WYD 2011 in Madrid.


Augustino Dut, Lisa Boys, Bishop Julian Porteous, Colleen Malone, Vanessa Forcella and Andrew Profilio at the WYD appreciation dinner

Privacy Victoria visits ACU

Students from the Melbourne Campus (St Patrick’s) were treated to a special guest lecture by David Taylor from the Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner.

Mr Taylor reminded students that privacy is not only enshrined in law, but should be ensured as a basic human right. He called for more people in the workplace to make sure that privacy is maintained.

“Good privacy is good for business,” he said. Mr Taylor also reminded students that the government is making an effort to ensure the right to privacy is maintained.

His visit acted as a prelude to the release of the Australian Privacy Commissioner’s latest publication for organisations, the Guide to Handling Personal Information Security Breaches. In defining privacy, Mr Taylor agreed with students that a loss of control is at the heart of privacy debates.

“Once your lose control of your personal information you lose privacy,” he said.

When questioned about online privacy and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, Mr Taylor said people should be cautious.

“People need to think about what they are putting on the site and how accessible that is,” Mr Taylor said.

Currently, the biggest driver for privacy laws is the introduction of new information technology. With each school-aged child set to receive a laptop computer, Mr Taylor reminded everyone, especially future teachers, that privacy education will be a fundamental requirement for the future. Visit for more information.

Privacy Vic

Uni Games on the way Melbourne

ACU will be strongly represented at the Australian University Games to be held throughout Melbourne from 28 September to 3 October, with 86 students currently registered to play.

The students will participate in sports including Australian Rules, touch football, lawn bowls, netball, taekwondo, swimming and athletics.

The event will be the largest University Games in history, with expectations more than 6,500 students, volunteers and officials will take part in 28 sports.

Students still wanting to get involved can visit to find a contact person for their campus. Please visit for further information about the event.

Drama performance on modern war

Advanced drama students from the Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) recently took part in two performances of Take Up Arms at St Joseph’s College in Brisbane.

The production was an exploration of war in contemporary society. ACU students collaborated with Year 12 students to give the performances, co-directed by the college’s Head of Performing Arts Ms Gregory Catherine Heffernan and ACU Senior Lecturer in Drama and Literature Dr Delyse Ryan.

Take Up Arms

Advanced drama students in their outdoor performance of Take Up Arms

Teaching opportunities in the Northern Territory

Education students at the Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) recently met Darwin Catholic Education Office Indigenous Catholic Community Schools Coordinator Mr Jim Jolley to explore teaching opportunities in the Northern Territory.

The School of Education’s Graduate Recruitment Program, coordinated by Dr Karen Maras with the support of Careers Adviser Rachael Grassi, aims to link students with initiatives in a variety of educational sectors.

Others in attendance included graduate Alicia Westbrook and school principal Leah Kerinuaiua, who shared their experiences of teaching in Indigenous communities near Alice Springs and on Bathurst Island.

Employment in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory is supported by financial incentives and offers graduates significant career development opportunities.

Email or for more information about teaching in Catholic Schools in the Northern Territory.

NT Education

Education student Sharon Chan, Alicia Medwell with Mr Jim Jolly

Research aims to improve mathematics skills

ACU Professor Elizabeth Warren has been awarded more than $300,000 from the Commonwealth Government for research aimed at improving the development of children’s mathematics skills throughout the Cairns, Rockhampton and Toowoomba Catholic dioceses.

Closing the Gap – Students Experiencing Success (SES) in Mathematics, is led by Professor Warren in partnership with the Queensland Catholic Education Office (QCEO).

The project aims to address educational and social disadvantage through a whole school approach, developing number sense in children from years 3, 4 and 5 by strengthening their oral language capacity.

“The collaborative project will focus on low socio-economic schools where children are experiencing difficulties in reaching national numeracy benchmarks,” said Professor Warren. “Our approach is based on the underpinning principles that all students are capable learners, and that good learning activities are engaging, allow for a range of modes of learning including visual, hands on, oral and kinaesthetic modes, are culturally appropriate, allow all children to experience success, and are challenging for all.”

The project will build students’ capacity to engage in “a Western test genre” and maximise their opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of numeracy.

Celebrating cultural diversity

Cultural diversity at ACU was recently celebrated with events at the North Sydney (MacKillop) and Strathfield (Mount Saint Mary) campuses.

A concert at the North Sydney Campus involved staff and students in Nepalese dancing, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Australian singing, Arabian belly dancing, poetry readings and a Sudanese rock band with accompanying choir. Some 250 members of the University community took part.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and International) Professor Peter Wilson described the event as “truly inspirational to all of us”.

Strathfield Campus students attended an International Pizza evening, hosted jointly by the International Office, Student Services and the Student Association.

The evening was aimed at encouraging students to mix and make new friends with people from different cultural backgrounds and to assist new international students to settle into University life.

Organisers say the night was so successful it has inspired a further event, Bollywood Night.

Cultural Diversity Cultural Diversity at the North Sydney Campus
Strathfield Pizza
Strathfield Campus celebrates International Pizza night

Funding to improve mathematical understanding

A pilot project run in partnership between ACU and the Catholic Education Offices in Ballarat, Sale, Sandhurst and Western Australia has received $1.3 million from the Commonwealth Government to improve numeracy and literacy skills in Indigenous and low socio-economic status (SES) communities in regional Victoria and Western Australia.

The pilot project, Bridging the Numeracy Gap for Students in Low SES and Indigenous communities, aims to significantly improve numeracy outcomes for students and provide support and assistance to children who are vulnerable in their mathematical learning.

ACU Senior Lecturer and researcher Dr Ann Gervasoni said the strength of this approach to mathematical learning is the University’s engagement with Indigenous and low SES communities.

“A stand out of this project is the determination of the partners to work alongside Indigenous and low SES communities,” Dr Gervasoni said. “We want to develop approaches to mathematical learning that are effective for all students. “We are continually learning from each education office and community about the differences in each region. We recognise the need for tailored regional approaches to mathematics to meet the unique nature of each community and student group.”

The $1.3 million pilot program will be implemented over two years.

Communications surveys

University Relations thanks staff, students, graduates and friends of the University who responded to a communications survey in acunique 9.

Most respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed reading the University's acunique magazines. Similar numbers responded online and using the tear-out form, and a number sent messages of congratulations.

These responses have paved the way for further interviews with a variety of graduates, staff, students, and members of professions about the nature and regularity of publications and news they would like to receive from the University.

For each completed survey received, University Relations has made a donation of $2 to Street Swags, designed by Brisbane graduate Jean Madden for people who are homeless. Visit for more information about Street Swags.

Applications open for Fulbright program

Applications are now open for the 2008 Fulbright Senior Specialist Program, which supports Australian universities in hosting visits by leading academics and professionals from the US.

The program aims to encourage collaboration on curriculum, facility and research development, while building long term institutional linkages.

Further information is available at, with applications closing on 10 October.

Young voices sing in Brisbane

The Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) recently hosted the 8th annual Young Voices Festival, which celebrates the music of very young choristers, including performers from the Queensland Youth Choir as young as three years.

The 300 strong audience also enjoyed recitals from the Young Conservatorium Melodic Minors, Brisbane Birralee Piccolos and special guests, the Imogen Children’s Chorale.

Guest Conductor Alisen Mclead led the Imogen Children’s Chorale performances of Keep your Hand to the Plow by Dave Riley and Siyahamba, the beautiful African Folk song.

Ms Mclead concluded the afternoon concert by conducting all four choirs in several items. Special thanks were extended to Senior Music Lecturer Ms Judy Fromyhr for her organisation of this important cultural community event.

Prison Fellowship art on show

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Quality and Engagement) Professor John O’Gorman welcomed patrons to the opening of the Prison Fellowship at the Brisbane Campus (McAuley at Banyo) recently.

The exhibition opening attracted around 130 people who viewed paintings, drawings and applied art on the theme Hopes and Fears. A group of five women attended from Helena Jones Community to install a communal piece worked on by 12 inmates.

“What we took away from this encounter was an overwhelming sense of fun, unity and community and a strong belief in the key message of hope and fear,” said one of the three judges, Dr Galdys Martoo.

Head of School Arts & Sciences (QLD) Dr Lindsay Farrell officially opened the national show and informed guests that pilgrims from WYD08 would have the opportunity to visit the display. Art works from Tasmania, NSW and Victoria joined the Queensland works for a wonderful display.

Prison Art 1 Guests enjoy the National Prison Fellowship Art show
Prison Art 2 One of the artworks on display

Physical activity valued in education

Three third-year exercise science students from the Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) have had an article featured in the September edition of Teacher Magazine.

Maria Boulatsakos, Catherine Casuscelli and Dominic Fricot’s article, Reaching their potential: teaching kids with Asperger Syndrome, explains why children need to have the opportunity to participate in physical activity from an early age, regardless of whether or not they have a neuro-developmental disorder such as Asperger Syndrome.

Art works on show at Strathfield

The Gallery@Strathfield at the Strathfield Campus (Mount Saint Mary) is currently showing an exhibition featuring works by first and second year visual art and design students.

The exhibition, including graphic design posters, ceramics, drawing and photography, will run until Friday 26 September.


ACU lecturer and artist Jeannette Siebols (left) with student Hollie Benson

Melbourne Campus dramatic backdrop

The Melbourne Campus (St Patrick’s) played a leading role in an episode of Australian television drama Rush, which screened on Wednesday 10 September on Channel 10.

The footage, filmed in May, featured areas of the campus around Victoria Parade as the backdrop for several scenes.


Upcoming Events

  • University Experience: Monday 30 June – Thursday 2 October.
  • Words Images Voices discussion at Strathfield: Thursday 2 October.

Details on this and other upcoming events can be found at

Promote your event by listing it on the myACU events section and by emailing details to